Company culture starts with good habits

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ACCA’s guest blogger: Thabiso Hermanus

The general development and future achievements of any business lie in the balance of a healthy, well-established company culture. Generally, the average business owner overlooks the importance of investing in a healthy company’s culture and doesn’t put the required time and effort into it at inception. They subsequently realise the negative impact it has had on their business by which time it’s too late. The irony is fixing something entails spending more money and time, compared to if the investment was made in the first place.

A healthy company culture demonstrates the values that the organisation stands for. Understanding and living by a company’s values increases organisational efficiency and productivity as everyone is aligned and recognises the priority of decision-making and action. One of the common mistakes that people make when searching for a job is to solely pursuit money and opportunity without actually enquiring what the company culture is. If values are not aligned, a relationship struggles to work and grow whether this is in business or in personal relationships.

In 1987, Paul O ‘Neill became the CEO of a listed manufacturing company called Alcoa. In his first official address to the Alcoa staff, O’Neil mentioned that he wanted to discuss the element of safety. He continued the address by introducing safety as a company value, a value which subsequently became a habit and drove the company culture. Despite initial resistance, it soon became evident that the organisational culture hailed from the employees, and not simply from his mouth. As a result, it improved their mind-set, way of thinking and increased the company’s productivity for the company. Paul O’Neill changed the habits and eventually the culture of the organisation; as a result by the time he retired in 2000 the annual net income was five times larger than when he took over. This particular example highlighted the influence of values and revealed how values be lived through good habits thus creating a solid company culture.

We spend close to 60% of our week at work, it’s important to ensure that the individual and organisational values are aligned because it does affect our way of thinking as well as how we carry ourselves as individuals. As an employee the type of culture in an organisation we want to work for should be a top priority when looking for a job. As an employer, the type of culture we create in the company should be a priority if we want to attract top talent and create value.

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